At some point, all college students face the dreaded group project. Those who enjoy working with friends or random classmates may be thrilled, but most of us find group projects frustrating. If you fall in the latter category, we’ve come up with some reasons why you should reconsider giving it your all for your next group project.
Group work during college is inevitable. Flaky group members, difference of opinions, and varied working styles are all encountered during group projects. Working with others on a major assignment has the potential to be painful! Instead of leaving it to chance, use these five steps to tackle your next group project and get an A with little fuss or drama.
1. Set Up Some Ground Rules
Communication is key to making group dynamics work, but can often be looked over when scrambling to get work done. Establish times in which you will speak and work together from the very beginning. If time is difficult to link up, utilize Skype or other online platforms so no one has an excuse of absent. In addition to communication, set up rules about what would happen if a person doesn’t pull their weight. Will a professor be informed? Would it be noted in the assignment? This is for everyone to agree upon and understand.
2. Own Your Role
No one wants to be the bossy leader type, but when your grades matter, you have to take control when necessary. This doesn’t mean butt heads with others or forget to listen to the ideas and suggestions of your partners. But if you feel that your group is drifting, sit everyone down and set up some “positions.” For example, have a designated recorder for the person taking notes or writing the paper. Another can be a historian in charge of fact checking. For presentations, have speakers and designers. This will help ease everyone into their position without forcing it.
3. Check-In With Deadlines
Timelines are necessary from the get-go! Write out the steps you need to take to complete the work. For example, for a research paper that is due in 4 weeks, split up each week by goal. Goal 1 would be getting all the necessary research data. Goal 2 would be outlining the paper and thesis statement. Goal 3 would be writing it and creating the bibliography. Goal 4 would be reviewing, editing, and fact checking. When a person is assigned an individual piece of the puzzle, be sure they understand when their half is due and check-in with them frequently in case you are stuck with someone less reliable.
4. Ask for Outside Mediation
No one wants to be the tattletale, but if someone completely ditches their work and still takes the glory, don’t feel bad intervening. Keep emails showing you attempted to contact them and then had to reassign the work. In terms of mediation, a professor, TA, or even advisor makes the perfect person to go to in case there is drama between the group that is not getting solved. Just be proactive so there is enough time to sort out issues before the due date.
5. Don’t Wait
Speaking of due dates, one of the biggest mistakes that a group can make is waiting until the last minute to either come together to combine the work or sit down and begin the project. Because group assignments have so many pieces and relies on everyone to be on target, set your deadline at least two days before the deadline. That should give you enough time to make any changes or create a backup in case someone doesn’t pull their weight.
Tackling a group project is never an easy task. With so many voices all trying to speak up, you have to remember you are there for the same reason: to get the best grade possible. By setting up open lines of communication while having strict expectations and deadlines, you can survive and earn the grade you deserve.